Fifty years ago, on Sept. 30, during the meeting of General Synod, Canadian Anglicans voted to change the name of their church from the “Church of England in Canada,” to “The Anglican Church of Canada.”
Although a motion to change the name was first introduced in 1911, it wasn’t until General Synod in 1949 that the matter was given more attention. J. P. Bell, then-treasurer of the Anglican Advance Appeal, moved a motion suggesting the name “The Anglican Church of Canada.” The motion was passed in the Lower House (order of laity), but was rejected in the Upper House (house of bishops).
Three years later in 1952, at the 18th General Synod held in London, Ont., the issue was raised again and was passed in the Upper House, but rejected in the Lower House. The group which was examining a name change — the Committee on the Name of the Church — felt that “the church as a whole was not yet ready for the change,” and recommended retaining the title of the Church of England in Canada.
Finally, in 1955, the Committee on the Name of the Church reviewed reasons in favour of a name change and noted that the former name — Church of England in Canada — seemed to suggest “something less than complete autonomy from England.” It was also seen as exclusive and not inclusive, and newcomers interpreted it as “the Church for the English people.”
The motion passed that year in both houses by a large majority at the 19th General Synod held in Edmonton.
Interested in keeping up-to-date on news, opinion, events and resources from the Anglican Church of Canada? Sign up for our email alerts .